Conversations: Echo Park Time Travel Mart

I was really excited to have the opportunity to visit the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, one of several 826 stores across the nation.

“826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

What attracted me to this organization was their use of a fictional storefront to, in a sense, create a branded experience for the students and the community at large. Of course, in my own words, these products fit nicely within the umbrella of “fictional entrepreneurship.”

How can a storefront act as a medium for community dialogue?

Conversation Notes (in dialogue with programs director, Shannon Losorelli):

  • All products are “manufactured” on-site, designed by local artists working on a volunteer-basis. Products are the primary means of keeping the tutoring center afloat.
  • The products stem from the overall concept of the store. Once this is established, the store facilitates the design of items inspired by the theme.
  • Contrary to my initial perception, the products do not serve as inspiration pieces for the students. Instead, the products are a way to form a conversation around creativity with the community at large.
  • The products often go through a series of releases, and re-releases to iterate on the initial form in order to attract more buyers, and communicate the concept in a clearer manner.
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